TERRILL, PHILIP BRADFORD

Name: Philip Bradford Terrill 
Rank/Branch: Specialist 5th Class/US Army 
Unit: Headquarter and Headquarters Battery,
1st Battalion, 92nd Artillery 

Date of Birth: 24 September 1947 (Utica, NY)
Home of Record: Hartford, NY
Date of Loss: 31 March 1971 
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 143740N 1074329E (YB935188) 
Click coordinates to view maps

Status in 1973: Prisoner of War 
Category: 1
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Other Personnel In Incident: James Salley, Jr. (missing) 

REMARKS:  7104 DIED TRI-BORDER AREA

SYNOPSIS:  Forward Observation Base 6 (FOB 6) was located on Hill 1001, on a jungle covered plateau with dense undergrowth approximately 2 miles west-southwest of Dak To and 13 miles east-southeast of the tri-border area where South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia join. It was also located 1 mile southwest of the Krong Poka River and 2 miles east of a primary north/south road. FOB 6 was strategically placed to locate and disrupt communist movements by adjusting artillery fire upon enemy positions in this hotly contested region of Kontum Province, South Vietnam.

By early 1971, this sector of South Vietnam was widely used by the NVA as an extension of their infiltration route commonly referred to as the Ho Chi Minh Trail. When North Vietnam began to increase its military strength in South Vietnam, NVA and Viet Cong troops again intruded on neutral Laos for sanctuary, as the Viet Minh had done during the war with the French some years before. This border road was used by the Communists to transport weapons, supplies and troops from North Vietnam into South Vietnam, and was frequently no more than a path cut through the jungle covered mountains. US forces used all assets available to them to stop this flow of men and supplies from moving south into the war zone.

On 31 March 1971,  SFC James Salley, Jr., was an advisor assigned to Advisory Team 22, Military Assistance Command ,Vietnam (MACV) and then SP4 Philip B. Terrill was a rifleman assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 92nd Artillery. Both men were stationed at FOB 6 as part of an integrated observation support team. An ARVN camp adjacent to the American compound on Hill 1001 was where Company B of the 63rd ARVN Artillery Battery was located.

The NVA determined that FOB 6 had to be annihilated in order to protect their infiltration route into this region of South Vietnam. By 0530 hours on 31 March, FOB 6 came under siege by elements of the 66th NVA Regiment. During the fierce battle that ensued, the vastly outnumbered American and Allied forces were overrun. SFC Salley and the surviving members of Advisory Team 22 attempted to escape and evade through a dry streambed. The team ran into two NVA ambushes, and SFC Salley was separated from the rest of the team during the firefights. The remainder of the team was able to break contact and eventually reach safety.

Other Americans lost contact with SP4 Terrill during the battle. After the FOB 6 was retaken, a full scale search and rescue/recovery (SAR) operation was conducted for US and Allied personnel who perished or disappeared during the fierce fighting. During the search operation, the bodies of American and ARVN soldiers were recovered and transported to the US mortuary at Dak To for identification. However, no trace of SP4 Terrill or SFC Salley could be found in or around the camp. At the time the formal search was terminated, Philip Terrill and James Salley were listed Missing in Action.

Nothing was heard of or from either American until early April 1971 when both the National Liberation Radio and Radio Hanoi broadcasts referring to the battle for FOB 6 and the capture of an unspecified number of Americans. A Quan Doi Nhan Dan newspaper article appeared in July 1972 that also referenced this battle and the capture of American advisors followed those two broadcasts. While no names were provided in the broadcasts or article, military intelligence believed the reports correlated to James Salley and Philip Terrill. Based on the intelligence evaluation of the information presented in the communist broadcasts and article, the US Army upgraded both Philip Terrill's and James Salley's status from Missing in Action to Prisoner of War.

No additional information was provided until 27 January 1973 when the Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG), better known as the Viet Cong, released a list containing the names of American POWs whom they reported died while under their control. The PRG list included SFC Salley as having Died in Captivity, but made no mention of SP4 Terrill. Ironically, at the same time the VC acknowledged that James Salley died while under their control, they refused to return his remains in spite of the fact they acknowledged holding him prisoner.

After Operation Homecoming, additional information was forthcoming from returned POWs. According to information provided during their debriefings, including firsthand information provided by SSgt. David Allwine, US Army, and second-hand information from several others, James Salley had been uninjured when captured. David Allwine, who had been captured nearly a month earlier on 4 March 1971, and James Salley were held together in an unknown prison camp location when SFC Salley became ill with malaria and dysentery. Guards took him to the camp's doctor who treated the American by giving him 5 injections. Shortly thereafter, James Salley was returned to the hut. Almost immediately SFC Salley passed out. The guards removed him from the hut and David Allwine never saw him again.

David Allwine was assigned to the burial detail. While the guards told him that he was to bury James Salley, he could not verify that because the body was already in the grave and partially covered with dirt. He did see a portion of the man's skin, which was that of a Negro, but did not see his face.

David Allwine never saw Philip Terrill in captivity. However, before his death, SFC Salley told David Allwine that SP4 Terrill had been wounded prior to capture. He also reported that Philip Terrill died of his wounds while being moved to the POW camp and was buried along the trail.

James Salley died under the direct control of the NVA and Philip Terrill reportedly also died under their direct control. Each man has the right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country. Further, there is no question that the Vietnamese could return each man's remains any time they had the desire to do so. For other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, their fate could be quite different.

Since the end of the Vietnam War well over 21,000 reports of American prisoners, missing and otherwise unaccounted for have been received by our government. Many of these reports document LIVE American POWs remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.

Military men in Vietnam were called upon to fight in many dangerous circumstances, and they were prepared to be wounded, killed or captured. It probably never occurred to them that they could be abandoned by the country they so proudly served.